Native American Concho Belt
The word concho, sometime spelled concha, comes from the Spanish word meaning shell. Some of the first “conchos” were made of melted silver dollars and resembled a shell. The concho belts began appearing in Navajo country in the late 1860s and early 1870s and are made from German Silver, Copper, and Brass.
There are three different historical phases of the concho belt, and the earliest form of the belts are now referred to as the “First Phase” belts. During this phase the belts were hammered out from melted coins, cut, and filed into shape, engraved and a diamond shape slot was cut out of the concho, with a bar left across the center of the diamond shaped slot for the leather belt to loop through. This phase of the concho belt is generally thought in terms of the years from the late 1860s to the 1880s.
During the “Second Phase” the belts began to be developed by the silversmiths. The belts were known to have a leather strap across the back allowing for the front, or the face, of the concho to be decorated and covered in silver. This phase lasted until through the 1890s and the 1900s.
The “Third Phase” of the concho belts is when the “butterfly’ appeared between conchos and the use of turquoise on the belts began. The “butterfly” is a smaller concho between the bigger conchos. This phase lasted until the 1930s, any belt from the 1940s and 70s is known as “vintage” and anything after is known as modern or contemporary.
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